Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Setting the Stage for the Susan Era story -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's, but it would more at home in the now-closed comments to this post.]

First you must understand that this was a unique time in the history of the lands.

Yes, it was during the Golden Age when Peter was High King, but that doesn't bring understanding. To understand you must realize that the Golden Age took time to establish and was fragile from beginning to end.

When the White Witch's regime collapsed so too did the combination of magic and border guards that had kept humans out of Narnia while sealing Animals for a century. The beginning of High Queen Susan's reign was a time of chaos. Aslan had left with the victory that signaled the changing of power from Jadis to four children who knew little of Narnia and less of ruling.

In those early days many humans migrated back into Narnia, the land of their ancestors, a rare few were even old enough to call it the land of their birth. Many Animals left, as to them Narnia had been nothing but memories of pain and cold.

Those who traded in captured Narnian livestock, long reputed to be the best in all realms, were no longer limited to the handful who escaped, or were expelled by the queen --already bound--
along with an ice shipment. They took many Animals who had immigrated into Archenland, and for the first time were able to journey into Narnia itself to capture their living wares.

Of course such practices were forbidden in Archenland, but Calormen had always been all the market the Animal traders had ever needed. Exotic Narnian Animals were highly sought after in Calormen, and the prices they would fetch made the need to transport them through Archenland but a pittance.

Once a satellite state of Narnia, Archenland had spent one hundred years in fear that without their patron, isolationist under Jadis, Calormen would simply take them over. Ignoring the trade in Animals, and not taxing the trade in ice, had been a way to keep Calormen content enough to not bother conquering them. That was how they justified it.

When Narnia reopened the Animal trade was firmly entrenched, had well established routes, and ensured a steady flow of Animals from Narnia to Calormen. By boat and over desert many were delivered into bondage. Those Animals who survived in Calormen had learned quickly to be silent, for fear they be executed as abominations born of unnatural magic.

In these times many Horses and Donkeys were taken, and they would come to ally themselves with many girls, boys, other youngsters, and adults as well, to escape Calormen.

It was only once the Kings and Queens of Narnia could again assert their power, and promise protection to Archenland, that the trade began to fail as old laws were once again enforced.

The kings and queens of Narnia made great efforts to protect their lands by forging alliances with neighboring countries, and Archenland once again became Narnia's closest ally. Sometimes, however, diplomacy failed.

When High King Peter was forced to take Narnia's entire army to the north, High Queen Susan and Low King Edmund took unprecedented measures to ensure peace in the south. They traveled with the Crown Prince of Archenland in their company, and indulged Calormen by immediately accepting an invitation to visit its capital that normally would have required months of diplomatic and logistical coordination.

It was a calculated risk, but for a century Calormen had demonstrated, via its stance toward Archenland, that it was content to allow the continued existence of kingdoms that bowed to its whims.

Only Low Queen Lucy remained to actually administer the country of Narnia, for High King Peter was involved in a war to prevent Narnia from being taken by the north, and High Queen Susan and Low King Edmund were engaged in diplomacy to prevent Narnia from being taken by the south.

It was the most volatile moment in Narnia's Golden Age, the memory of Aslan was fading, a war raged, and the vast empire of Calormen loomed like a cornice ready to bring devastation upon everything in its path if perturbed.

Into the center of this stumbled a party that included not just a boy or girl with a Mare, Stallion, or Donkey, but a Mare with a girl, a Stallion with a boy, and a donkey in tow.

It is true that there was no human child who was neither boy nor girl, nor was there a talking Donkey, but most of the characters from most of the stories could be mapped onto one of the five travelers. This alone might have made it into the story the others were subsumed into, but that it was a story from Narnia's Golden Age in which the fate of not just Archenland, but also Narnia, hung in the balance made the story irresistible.

There had been many Brees before, Bree was a common enough name for a mount, and there had been girls called "aravissa" rather than their actual names, but here there was a Bree, a girl actually named Aravis (after one of the girls from an earlier story) the first Shasta and the first Hwin to appear in such an adventure, and the nameless donkey that somehow seemed to stand for all donkeys and Donkeys alike.

When Bree the Liar combined many existing tales into his own, largely fictitious, adventure some years later, it was this story that he stole the most from.

It was at this time that our story began. While it would affect the fates of Narnia, Calomen, and Archenland between, it started by a stream that was little more than a trickle far to the south of any place or person who might be expected to affect the course of any of those three nations.

For it was in this place that a boy named Shasta would learn that everything he had believed was a lie. Normally such a thing would mean little to anyone but the boy, but that was the pebble that started the rockslide.



The Matter of Aravis -- Index

The idea is that the reason for inconsistencies and non-sequiturs in the source text is that many different stories were combined (bashed together) into the existing The Horse and His Boy narrative because of sexism and racism.

Also because Archenland has a truly horrible history when it comes to their treatment of royal twins, and they'd rather pretend it only happened once, and any additional stories are just corruptions of the one, AND ONLY ONE, time the twin thing happened (which happens to be one of the rare times they're not to blame.)

In theory all of my HHB fic can be adapted into this, and I definitely plan to, for instance, include all three versions of "the comportment of a slave" by modifying them so they're conversations between different people at different points in history that represent the changing nature of slavery in Calormen.

At the moment, though, all I've really written post deciding to go through with the idea is the core story that mostly follows along with the book.


Things written about the conception of the idea well before I decided to actually run with it.

Susan Era story:

Monday, May 22, 2017

When Shasta asked Corin where Susan was -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

The march was slow as the whole endeavor would be pointless if the cavalry arrived, exhausted, ahead of the, likewise exhausted, infantry, and so Shasta found himself with a lot of time to think about what he'd volunteered for. It had seemed to make sense at the time. Everything, even Aravis' suffering at the claws of a lion they'd foolishly mistaken for Aslan, would be for nothing if Anvard fell.

Sure, they'd started off looking for nothing more than freedom, but they'd become caught up in this larger flow of history and they'd all chosen to deliver Aravis' message to Anvard and warn Queen Susan of the looming danger even though they'd have been safer waiting till the battle was decided and crossing only then.

The message and warning were delivered, but neither would matter much if Anvard fell and the Tisroc were convinced to send more troops to solidify the conflict.

It had seemed to make sense to do everything in his power, including joining this hastily thrown together army, to make sure Anvard survived the assault and the Calmorene troops never had unfettered access to the passage to Narnia and Queen Susan.

As the horse --a magnificent creature that treated him well, but not someone he could possibly talk to; even Hwin would only be able to manage the most basic communication with an ordinary horse-- drew him closer and closer to the inevitable death and bloodshed, he was beginning to doubt the wisdom of volunteering.

Maybe it would have been better to leave the fighting to the other volunteers, like the Badgers and Weasels who had as much intelligence as any person paired with the fighting instincts of their wordless brethren.

Shasta was in need of some kind of reassurance or comfort, and his mind returned to Queen Susan. Not as the person they had to warn about Rabadash's assault, but as the woman who had been kind to him in Tashbaan. It wasn't his place to call on the High Queen of Narnia to quell his fears, but maybe she would anyway.

"Where is Queen Susan?" Shasta asked Corin.

Shasta was confused at the reaction his question provoked. A flury of emotions, none of them good, seemed to contort Corin's face. Just for a moment though. Then, composed, he said, "At Cair Paravel."

Why would she have stayed there? She had as much to lose as anyone. Unless--

"She’s not like Lucy, you know," Corin continued, and didn't give Shasta time to say that he didn't know before adding, "who’s as good as a man, or at any rate as good as a boy."

That made no sense. If anyone preparing for battle were given a choice between Shasta, a boy, and Aravis, a girl, they'd chose Aravis. They'd be right to. Shasta would chose Aravis over himself. Obviously girls could be better than boys, so too could they be worse. It depended on the girl and the boy in question.

Shasta had lived most of his life as a common slave with no education. One who hadn't even realized he was a slave until the end. If he could understand this, how could Corin --prince and heir to an entire well off kingdom-- not?

"Queen Susan is more like an ordinary grown-up lady," Corin said as if it meant something.
There was something harsh in his voice, but Shasta couldn't place it. "She doesn’t ride to the wars," after a pause Corin's manner became more pleasant and he said, "though she is an excellent archer.”

The only thing Shasta had learned from that was that Queen Susan was an excellent archer. Still, Shasta thought he'd figured out the answer on his own. Queen Susan was Rabadash's target. If she showed her face on the battlefield she'd be in much greater danger than anyone else. It made sense for her to avoid the battle.


* *

Shasta is actually wrong here. His reasoning is fine, but he reaches the wrong conclusion none the less. He's missing out on some important facts, you see.

Susan stayed because her state of mind wasn't fit for fighting after Corin's violent outburst toward her (because she turned down Corin's offer of marriage), which was what Ana suggested here and what I ran with on the "why Susan stayed and Corin went" fic.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Birds before Battle -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.  As a reminder from last time, Susan stayed at the castle, Shasta was allowed to join without subterfuge, and Corin was allowed to ride with the army when he might otherwise not have been (since he's theoretically under the protection of Narnia) because he needed to be separated from Susan.]

"What draws your eyes, Shasta?" the horned Rabbit to his right asked.

"All the birds."

"They've been told there is a battle coming," the Rabbit said. "Eagles, Hawks and Vultures can't quite converse with their wordless brethren, but they can get the gist across. It's considered polite to let the wordless, those which resemble you, know about potential feasts."

"He means the dead people and horses," Corin said with a strange and disturbing glee.

"Will they feed on . . . us?" Shasta asked.

"If we die," Corin said.

"Only the wordless would," the Rabbit said. "It's generally considered very rude to dine upon one whom, in life, you could have conversed with."

"But . . ." Shasta was having difficulty figuring out how to communicate this. He knew that some animals ate their own kind, but he didn't wish to sound like he was saying those like this Rabbit did. Finally he settled on, "But wordless eat wordless."

"Their ways are their own," the Rabbit said, "and quite unlike our own."

~ - ~

If Al-mi'raj were a species rather than an individual, the horned rabbit would be one of them.  WanderingUndine thought of a jackalope and I can definitely see where that's coming from.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Going Forward

Ok, so, I need money to pay down debts, that hasn't changed.  What if I didn't?  Where would I go from here if I had money and it weren't spoken for, as it were?

I cannot stress enough how much I need new shoes.  Even if the soles don't come off entirely the current shoes are like begging to sprain an ankle before I've even managed to fully recover from the break.  Most of the seams and other connections are busted, the soles are worn straight through at their centers, the whole thing is a mess.

What with changing seasons and so forth the shoes I was looking at are no longer available online, but these look like they'd work.  Way out of my price range, but this is a "what if" post.  I also need inserts because my feet are weird.  As in I was once having ski-boots fitted and they called everyone in the foot section over to look at my weird feet.  It's nothing terribly debilitating, certainly not deformed, but I do need inserts and not the cheap kind.  They run about $50.

Once damage control on my feet is over we get to more interesting stuff.

I seem to have reconnected to my creativity so hopefully that will mean more fiction, original and derivative in the future.  I cannot stress how much I would like that.

I want to return to the deconstructions (I've got three stalled right now) and I'm thinking of just starting them over from the beginning.  In some cases this will mean minor revisions, in others it will mean total rewrites.

I've never talked much about fabrication here, but it's something that I've done in the past and I want to get back into.  Mostly before I've made puzzles of the style pioneered by Erno Rubik and his cube.  (The technical term for the category is "Twisty Puzzle(s)".)  Definitely have a lot on that front that I've been waiting years, and in some cases over a decade, to do.  But there are also other creation things I'd like to branch out to.  The problem: It's even more expensive than the damned shoes.

Alumilite is what I know and use and while they offer small volume options, if you're going to be doing a lot of stuff you want to buy the large sizes and the prices start to be $90 for this, $165 for that, $85 for that other thing, $98 for yet another, $63.25 for thing N, $42.50 for thing N+1, and so forth.

* * *

All of the above means that I'll probably stay in the ankle sprainer shoes coming apart in every conceivable place with the holes worn straight through the bottom and also never return to making shit.

But, on the plus side, moving forward I'll hopefully have new fic and decon posts and stuff.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spear of Athena story in general outline

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

It's an idea I'd had before that came back to me when on a long walk yesterday (the longest I've done since breaking my ankle), group of women go on an epic quest that's about a myth whose origin is obscure but seems to be vaguely Amazonian (mythological variety) and definitely Hellenic since it's for the spear of Athena.

As is often the case in these stories they have an evil counterpart.

Complications arise because the good group ends up crossing paths with an assumed male person and eventually is forced to let that person travel with them since the alternative is to leave assumed male person to be killed off by evil counterpart group. Assumed male person is treated as a prisoner, though, and leader of quest is very against person's presence.


They locate the sanctuary in which the spear is located, each member of the group tries to take up the spear but can't.

This seems impossible since destiny was on their side and their quest was definitely foretold to bring the spear's chosen warrior to it.

Evil counterpart group announces their presence by saying that the the quest did, since clearly one of them is chosen and without the good group to follow they'd never have located the spear.

Cue low tech battle. These are people racing --as though the fate of the universe depended on it-- to find a Mycenaean era spear that is assumed to be magic. They're fighting with spears, swords, and knives. Mostly swords since it's easier to get fencing lessons than spear fighting lessons.

Assumed male person manages to get rope binding hands together cut, but the one who does that is immediately forced into a fight and none of the other good people will disobey their leader to arm assumed male person.

Dodging bladed weapons while completely unarmed and unarmored is a short term solution at best, and assumed male person gets backed up against a wall next to the spear no one could budge. In a moment of desperation, assumed male person grabs the magic spear to use its shaft to block an incoming sword blow.

Everything stops.

Quest group leader: That's impossible! You have to be a woman to wield the spear!
Assumed Male Person: Who says I'm not?
*Assumed Male Person says some ancient Greek words (introduced earlier in the story) agreeing to contract the spear offered by allowing itself to be lifted*
*Assumed Male Person gets a makeover including sensible, if Mycenaean era, armor, secondary weapons, skill that ought to require years of training, and results like she'd been on HRT for a year*

Battle is quickly won.

All of primary quest group is accepting except now-deposed leader who insists this is some sort of sacrilegious blasphemy.

Quest Group Member: So, I've felt like there was this thing between us for a while now but didn't say anything because I found you woefully unattractive.
Assumed Male Person: That's interesting, because I've felt like there was this thing between us for a while now but didn't say anything because I found you woefully unattracted.
Quest Group Member: I'm attracted now.
Assumed Male Person: So, you want to go out on Friday?
Quest Group Member: Friday I'm busy, how's Saturday?
Assumed Male Person: Saturday's good.

Spear of Athena is presumably used to do good and noble things.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why Susan Stayed And Corin Went -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Shasta was sent for after his message arrived, so he's at Cair Paravel while the army is mustered and it's determined who will go where.]
[The first scene is set at the end of a scene proposed by Ana: Corin--who is characterized as selfish, violent, and determined to get his way in all things--requests an audience alone with Susan, who grants it as she thinks of him fondly as a child. He puts himself forward as a suitor, explaining that if she marries him she won't need to be afraid of Rabadash anymore. Susan rebuffs him, laughing at the jest; Corin, in a fit of rage, attempts to harm her.]

Corin, glaring up from the floor in a rage, shouted at Susan, "I'm trying to save you, you stupid--"

"You are testing my ability to be gentle," Susan said with such force Corin was stunned into silence. "I've beaten you once, if you don't get out, now, and never attempt anything like this again, you'll see what happens when I stop being Susan the Gentle of Narnia and start being Susan the Pissed Off of Moðrheim,"

* * *

"I'm too . . . distracted by what happened to be of use in battle," Susan said.

"I would be too," Edmund said.

"So you'll just stay here," Lucy said. "We can do without our best archer given that we'll still have our second and third best. Though I do wish I'd convinced Peter to leave the rest of the top ten here as well."

"That can't be helped now," Susan said. "We have to work with what we have."

"When our new army leaves Cair Paravel," Edmund said, "Rabadash might again try to abduct you in a sneak attack. If we want to save our allies we can only afford to leave a handful of guards."

"I'll survive," Susan said. "The question is what to do with Corin."

Edmund nods. "We don't have time to deal with him and his actions right now."

"We take him with us," Lucy said. "With the regular army in the north, we're taking any volunteer who can fight anyway. He meets that description."

"And he'll jump at the chance to go because he'll see the battle as entertainment," Edmund said.

"Exactly," Lucy said.

"If he accepts that he's lost me," Susan said to Lucy, "he may set his sights on you."

"I'll be surrounded by soldiers, in my own tent with my own chosen guards, and not taking social visits, what with the emergency and all," Lucy said simply.

"There is one problem," Edmund said, "if he falls in battle, how do we explain to King Lune that we got his only son killed?"

"We'll stick him at the back," Lucy said, "and if that doesn't protect him, well accidents do happen in wartime."

"Lune may never forgive us," Susan said, "but he can't afford to alienate Narnia so soon after an attack from Calormen. Besides which, we've no intention of letting him die, and if the worst does happen, even Lune will agree that it would have been cruel of us to prevent Corin from defending his own home when we allowed others who were significantly less qualified join the battle."

"It can't be said to be unfair to let him join the fight," Lucy said. "Consider the messenger, if someone with such obvious similarities, but far less training, is eligible then Corin must be. Fairness dictates that."

"About the messenger," Susan said, "what will we do with him when this is all over?"

"He and his companions were instrumental in warning both Archenland of the impending attack and us of Rabadash's true motives," Edmund said, not because the others didn't know, but because he wanted it at the front of their minds.

"Without his warning," Susan added, "Rabadash's attempt to abduct me may well have succeeded."

"Justice dictates he be rewarded," Edmund said. "Archenland may have use for a body double for their prince, a position in which he would be well taken care of. If Lune does not offer appropriate compensation to the messenger, though, I have already arranged for he and his four* companions to be well taken care of here in Narnia."

"In case we don't survive to give such orders after the battle?" Lucy asked.


"With any luck, the other four should be here by the time you all return alive," Susan said. "I'll make sure they're given every comfort until decisions can be made. I understand it was the girl's message that allowed Archenland to prepare in the face of the attack, if anything she's more of a hero than the messenger who came to us."

"With all of that settled, I must return to the matter at hand," Lucy said. "The Ravens, Crows, Magpies, and Jackdaws have delivered our call, the volunteers are arriving, and I'll need to work on forming them into a serviceable army."

"That I can help with," Susan said.

"I'll look to our provisions," Edmund said.


* They didn't abandon the fucking donkey. I cannot stress this enough. A donkey may not words-think like a human or Animal, but that's no reason to abandon it. The donkey came with them.


Assuming I mashed up the Norse correctly Moðrheim translates to "(the) Home of Wrath".

For those who didn't follow the narrative of Lewis' actual book, Aravis (not Shasta/Cor) was the one who learned about the attack on Anvard.  So it was her message even if he delivered it the last tiny leg of the journey.